The past few weeks have served as a bread-baking hiatus, but I’m starting to get back into the swing of things. Unfortunately, the next bread on the agenda was French bread, which I’ve made once before and didn’t have a fantastic outcome. This more recent outcome was quite similar. Edible, yes, but not anything to write home (or a blog?) about. The one exciting thing about making this bread was that I got to use my new handy dandy stand mixer that Michael got me for Christmas.
I made the poolish the night before and then cut it into smaller pieces before combining it with additional flour, salt, etc.
The mixer did a great job, although I did remove the dough and knead it myself for the last 5-7 minutes to get a better idea of its consistency/stickiness/etc. Once I finished, I put the dough into an oiled bowl and let it rise for about two hours.
After the rise, I cut the dough into three “equal” pieces and rolled them out into baguettes. I then let them sit in a makeshift couche for another hour or so.
When they were ready to bake, I made some slits on the top of the loaves with a paring knife. I still haven’t really gotten this method down, because the slits did not have the desired effect on the finished product. Oh well. This was another bread that required a “hearth atmosphere,” so I preheated the oven with a baking stone and roasting pan inside. Once the oven reached 500 degrees, I placed the loaves on the stone and poured a cup of boiling water into the roasting pan to get the oven nice and steamy. After one minute, I gave the oven a couple more spritzes of water with my makeshift squirt bottle (aka the iron) at 30 second intervals.
They baked for about 45 minutes – in retrospect, I probably could have left them in a little bit longer, because they didn’t get a nice golden brown crust like they should have. I didn’t take any glamour shots when the loaves came out of the oven, but here’s one after I cut it in half for some sandwiches.
I’ll admit, this was not one of my finer breads, but it did make for a nice sandwich with prosciutto, mozzarella, red peppers, oil, and balsamic vinegar.
The next bread on the agenda is Italian bread, which I have also made in the past, with pretty good results. The recipe I used previously came from the King Arthur Flour cookbook, so it will be interesting to see how this recipe compares.